Ethiopia: Book about censorship of arts in the Ethiopian society

11 February 2014

‘Maekeb’, which means ‘Sanction’, is a new book by Endalegeta Kebede. It focuses on the censorship challenges experienced by creative members of Ethiopian society.


The Reporter in Addis Abeba and the global website published a review of the book, written by Neamin Ashenafi, on 8 February 2014. Excerpts:

In countries like Ethiopia, where democracy is in its infancy and freedom of expression is clearly stipulated but not freely implemented, writers of literary works (theatre, fiction, poems and music lyrics), journalists, and painters have for long been subject to censorship and are practicing self-censorship.

This was especially so during the recent regimes of Emperor Haile-Selassie I and Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, and even now is a fairly typical experience for many writers, painters and journalists all over the world.

‘Maekeb’, written by Endalegeta Kebede, aims to address these issues, both past and present.

This book focuses on the censorship challenges as experienced by the creative members of Ethiopian society. Apart from raising some critical points about censorship, it also covers issues directly relating to writers and booksellers.

Other topics include how the restrictions impact the environments of literature and painting, together with stories about the limitations in the freedom of expression.

The book is divided into three parts, with each allotted to illustrate the difficulties faced in different regimes, including the current one.

The first section concentrates on the global history and evolution of censorship – particularly in Ethiopia – and how failure to adhere to regulations has resulted in physical harassment, imprisonment and even death.

The writer starts with the story of Teklehawaryat Tekelemariam, who after studying in Tsarist Russia produced the first play in the country, which was subsequently banned from being performed in public. Despite his close ties to the throne he was unable to tackle the burden of censorship, and the public were deprived of the chance to see his work during the imperial era. (…)

The book has four appendices, demonstrating the seriousness of the problem in Ethiopia.

Endalegeta Kebede: ‘Maekeb’. Published in Addis Ababa, 2014. 304 pages. Price: 60 birr. Paperback

» The Reporter – 8 February 2014:
Describing Censorship
» Republished by

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